Sunday, December 18, 2011

Why I don't watch Main Stream Media.

Wow.... so, yah October's long gone and soon so is 2011.

I probably should write more.

But, I have a little bit of content today. So I've been doing my best to ignore the news media this month, mostly because everytime someone opens their mouth about politics I want to stomp the offending face in. This is not a healthy reaction to the body politic, so I stay away from it. :)

I hear a lot of stupid these days and I get my daily quota of stupid at work, most days. I'm not going to preach. I'm just going to quote (to the best of my ability, I unfortunately didn't get the woman's name, I was too busy eating a burger) someone I heard on CNN today while eating at the fine fast dining establishment who's corporation owns my company.

"Well, you see the banks are willing to loan us more money right now at *really* low rates. So what we need to do is *backload* the debt. Put it off for ten, or fifteen years and give the economy time to recover. (And just for fun, this woman was identified, if I recall correctly, as a conservative...)

^Thinking like that, is how we got where we are today.

This is why, we can't wait. It's going to hurt. A *LOT* but if we don't do it now, we're going to get to a point where its impossible. Or if not impossible, impossible *not* to do something, and it'll hurt a lot worse then. And then we'll be where Greece will be in less then five years.

It won't be pretty.

My two cents.

-Jon

Monday, October 3, 2011

Rambles from a Range Officer

So, I'm no longer in a European country (I went to Germany about a month after my tour in the UK for work was up) and I'm glad for it. Fun places to visit, I like home.

Kinda makes me sound rather settled, and I guess I am.

Anyway earlier this week I read a bit from I Aim To Misbehave on how to properly and legally (in broad strokes) hold a protest.

Good stuff. Don't ask me why, but it got me thinking about pet pevees I have as a volunteer Range Safety Officer at the local indoor range (www.rrrmc.com, if you're interested)

So, some general rules to follow that aren't necessarily in the handbook, or the briefing, and shouldn't be because they common (uncommon?) sense.

1. The RSO/RO isn't the bad guy. He's not there to ruin your fun, he's there to reduce the liability of the range and make sure everyone goes home as intact as possible. Its a shooting range, you're using a tool, but its a dangerous tool, and some people think they know a lot more about guns then they do. I know a smattering about guns and a lot about the guns I own. I like being safe. I'm a volunteer. When I tell you to do something, do it - the first time, because I don't want to kick you out, I want you to have fun, but I will do the first if you aren't being safe, and you won't come back, if you're that bad about it.

I can do that, and I will.

2. If you're new to the range, if you're new to firearms, and all this stuff - *say* so. I'm going to figure it out within five minutes of watching you shoot if you've never picked up a gun before. Be honest. I'll *help* and you'll have more fun - and learn more then if I have to come over and correct you later because you're doing something unsafe.

3. Don't lie to me. Especially if I keep the range open longer for you. When I'm the RSO, its my name on the paper, and the building is my responsibility. Don't say you're just going to crono some rounds, then bring in friends from a side door and then tell me you're all RSO's so I can just go home. It doesn't work that way. We're supposed to be closed. I was nice. I don't care if you're buddy's on the board. The board will back me up. They might scold me later, but that's their business. You don't want me to have to report that I had problems with your organization, whatever it is, because we've tossed orgs before, and while we don't *want* to do it, if you don't follow the rules, we will.

4. Don't sigh when I tell you to put your eyes and ears on outside the range. The Range is hot, that means that weather or not there are people in there, there is no control to when those people chose to fire. They may be you're eyes and your ears, but I'm not going to be held liable by some ambulance chasing attorney because you are dumb.

5. There is only one safe direction to point your firearm at the range. And that's at the backstop. If you have to do maintenance on your firearm at the line, and the muzzle goes any direction but down range, I'm ging to call you on it. I've seen people point guns at themselves, at their legs, at the floor at the person next to them. Most of the time the only person they would hurt is themself. But I don't want you to shoot yourself anymore then I want to get shot.

I will say something. If its bad enough I will call a cease fire, and then *everyone* will hear my say it. Think people. Please.

6. Before I was an RSO, I used to think some of the rules we have at the range were dumb, or at least excessive. I'm now an RSO, and the responsiblity for what happens at the range and what happens in result of your actions is on *my* shoulders. And I'm one guy, monitoring up to fifteen active lanes at a time. They make a lot more sense from my position then they might from yours. I highly recommend you try it sometime - because we always need more volunteers, and it will change the way you look at safe handling. The most important piece is still between the shooters ears, and it might be annoying some of the restrictions we place on you - but they exist to make *my* life, and your life easier, in the long run. If you want to complain, do it to the board, not me. Or take the RSO class, and try a busy weekend shift yourself.

Your view will change too.

Have fun, stay safe, shoot straight.

-Jon

Thursday, July 21, 2011

More Musing from across the Pond - The Book Stack

So, I'm still stuck in the UK. And I really *really* should be sleeping right now, but after staring at the ceiling for an hour gave up on that for the moment.

So, I'm gonna drop a couple three hundred word or so reviews from my proverbial Book Stack and then see if I can sleep.

First up, Monster Hunter Alpha. I'm a fan of the MHI series in general and a huge fan of Larry Correia and his now various books and recent success. Cool guy, great books, and maybe one of these days I'll cross paths and get him to sign a book for me.

Anyway, I bought Monster Hunter Alpha by e-ARC. Damn Baen and their book crack. Once I get back to the States and get my bookshelves finally sorted out it and a few other Baen books will get proper dead tree copies. This book is a departure for the MHI series because its told from Earl Harbinger's perspective.

Let me put it this way - if you've read the other two MHI books, Earl is the king of badasses.

And he racks it up a couple notches with this book. The vast majority of the book takes place in Northern Michigan, and while I've never been there, I know a thing or two about hard winters and Larry pulled off getting the feel right pretty well. Throw in a local cop, some new MCB agents who you will love to hate, and eventually pity, and a Bad from an earlier book, and its a romping good time.

Along the way we learn a little more about Werewolves, Earl, the Shackleford family tree and some hints of things to come.

Its a hell of a good book. It comes out next week. Go buy it. Read it. Enjoy.

Switching gears slightly I'm going to move to a trio of books by Micheal Z Williamson.

I came across Mr Williamson from a combination of Larry touting him once or twice (or five or six times), a couple good words from Marco over at the Munchkin Wrangler, and his own work at the Survival Blog (I see I need to seriously update my bloglist). The three books I'm going to talk briefly about are Freehold, The Weapon, and Rogue.

Freehold is a book about a political refugee. Ok, everyone sit down and imagine with me. Its a good long way into the Future, the UN, instead of dying a needful death is the Galactic super government with the governments of most planets beholden to it in one shape or another. There are some fringe planets. One of these, is known was Freehold (it has another name, which I like better, but its late, I'm tired and I don't have my e-reader handy and google is more then one mouse click away :D). Freehold... is as I think I described it to a friend, the perfect Libertarian/libertarian/Capitalist paradise.

It probably can't ever exist. I'm fairly sure I wouldn't fit in there. I'm also fairly sure I want to try, if it did, anyway.

Anyway - a political refugee - running from a wrongful conviction at the hands of the UN runs to Freehold. And we experience her struggles to understand this quite alien culture and world, and then experience a War brought on by the UN because it covets the money and power Freehold has, and well... it polled well.

There's far more too it then that, but if there's a Capitalist bone in your body, you will hate the UN en-mass by the end - its an early book, and feels like one - but that said I really enjoyed it. It ends well, and it hints at other things. Its a world I want to learn more about. Which is how all early books should be.

The Weapon starts before Freehold takes place, and ends after. The main character is Captain Chinran, a memeber of the Freehold Special Operations troops. He's sent to Earth to pave the way for an attack of such magnitude that Earth will head to the negotiating table in a possible(and expected) War.

Mr Williamson did a fine job of pre-facing this in Freehold, and now we get to see this masterwork in progress. Its a frightening tale, and *very* believable in a future sort of sense looking at the way society is heading.

I can't say I ever felt sorry for the Earthies, though I did for all the characters sent to perpetuate these acts. They were asked to do monsterous things.

And they did them, to save their planet.

Something like that would really mess with a person - and I think the Author did a really good job of portraying that.

But, he wasn't done yet. Rogue goes back to the Freehold universe, some 10-15 years after the War. Our man Chinran had survived after all, and so did some others.

One in particular has gone off the reservation, and the Military complex of Freehold seeks out Chinran to hunt down the weapon of a man he created and put a stop to it.

I'm at odds with this book in some ways. I like it, I like delving into the Chinran character and I like exploring the Freehold world all the more - but while I feel the first two thirds or so of the book are as solid as the other two offerings, the final third moves to jump cuts quite a bit, and forces an ending that... doesn't quite feel right.

Both the Weapon and Rogue are predominantly written in the First person, and so we mostly see things only from Chinran's perspective, so some of the offkilterness can be attributed to that - but it does feel near the end like Mr Williamson ran out of steam and needed to *finish* possibly on a deadline of some sort just to get the book out the door.

All said though, I heartily recommend all three books.

They'll make you sit back and think - if nothing else - and they're a fun ride while they do it.

Anyway time for me to crawl back to bed and try to get some sleep before another mindnumbing day tomorrow.

-Jon

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Musings from across the Pond

So its been a while.

Last week I crossed the North Atlantic in a United 747 for the first time, bound for the UK on a last minute trip for work, thats going to last me a month. I get to go home in August.

Honestly, I could go home next week and be happy. I'm here helping with QA for a new release of the software I support. Lets just say that the UK branch of my parent company doesn't exactly do a stellar job of testing, thier test systems are not configured like a store would be. They aren't installed liked a store would be, and they're a mess of manual software changes.

I spent most of my time last week trying to figure out a simple problem, that flummoxed me for most of 2 days because I had to dig through old and current configs to figure out why the damned thing didn't work, never mind why it didn't work as intended.

I'm supposed to be testing the software, not fixing it so its in a state to be testable.

Needless to say, I am not impressed. There are a lot of other little things about this trip that bug me, but thats the biggest, by far.

I work in London, I commute from a town a decent distance outside of London because except for about the day before I left, everyone thought I was going to work out of RTS's Lentchworth facility.

Guess not.

Not all is lost. I'm getting to trundle around the UK which isn't something I thought I'd get to do - possibly ever. Its and interesting country, with nice people, a lot of history some really cool scenery...

And I would never want to live here. I'm an uncultured, uncouth American. I drive a gas guzzling 4 wheel drive pick-up, I like Air Conditioning, and my 50 inch TV. Water thats hot. Being able to walk somewhere without being seen by at least 15 CCTV cameras. Money that fits in my wallet. Good Coffee. Space.

Being able to carry a gun.

Real BACON.

Roads wide enough to drive on.

And most importantly my own bed.

But, I won't be getting that for a while. Anyway, I should be getting to bed. Its late and I want to try to take in the Imperial War Museum tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

From an IM window to the Sandbox: (NSFW)

"...who knows, politics is a giant game of twister."

"Naked Twister, where the purpose is to fuck your opponent as uncomfortably as possible."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The places you'll go (or, in the case, have gone)


visited 29 states (58%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

Found the above over at Ready, Fire, Aim, Appologize (You can find the link in the sidebar. I'm lazy. So after some thought I think I've caught all the states I've been to, at least once. Dang. I get around - and there's still so much yet to see.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

From the Cube to a Firing Range

Well, I'm not really changing vocations (sure would be fun though) but I have decided to get involved in the local range, or the RRRMC (Red River Regional Marksmanship Center) which is by far the nicest range in ND, as long as you want to shoot pistol caliber ammo anyway.

Completely volunteer operated they are non-profit, and after a first year of struggling in some respects have really done an excellent job of expanding their hours, offerings and making their membership system far more sensible (something they wanted to do from day one, but couldn't because of the Non-Profit title they filed under. That is currently being revised.

Today before work I went to their front desk seminar since I'm scheduled to work this weekend (they're putting on a Fun Show this weekend too, double bonus) at the front desk. I've also signed up to do RSO duties, but they only hold the certification classes so often, but this is a good start. Shifts are 2 hour blocks so its not like its crazy amounts of time, if I don't want it to be - and I'm getting involved in something and out of the house.

So I'm really looking forward to it. Sometime in April (hopefully the first week) I'm gonna pick up a 10/22 Ruger so I have something nice and cheap to shoot, which should get me out to the range more often, and tightening up, and maintaining my skills.

A little farther out I'd like to pick up a .22 Pistol as well. I'm still debating between a semi-auto and a revolver. Since my primary arm in pistols is a semi - from a function standpoint and trainer a semi-auto makes a little more sense.

But the whole point is to get out and shoot more, for less money.

Anyway, thats all I got for tonight.

-Jon

Monday, March 14, 2011

A little Catch-Up

So its been a while. Went skiing, vacationed, budgeted, threw up some sheetrock in my Dad's basement, started some serious work on my little personal stockpile of stuff, and contacted a gunsmith.

In reverse order, after much poking around and questioning, there's no one in ND (apparently) that falls under the proper heading of 'gunsmith' so I found one in MN. Gonna ship my dad's .22 out to them round about friday to get that particular project moving forward. Stripped, blued and new furniture. Cost more then a new 10/22 but I'm not doing it just to get a functional .22 I'm doing it to try to preserve one of my dad's memories.

I figure its worth it.

Bought some packets of Mountain Home freeze dried food to try out before I lay in a few 10# cans for longterm storage. Really impressed, I didn't expect to enjoy any of it and out of the five main dish varieties, and 4 side dish varieties I tried out, only the Mac and Cheese would be something I just won't be buying again. Brigid made mention of the stuff a little before I made my order, and I agree with her, its a little spendy, but its supposed to last this side of thiry years, and it tastes good with decent nutritional values.

Also made the first of my rotating orders of bullets to suppliment my beans this month. I highly recommend LuckyGunner.com as a result. Excellent website, only sells whats onhand, and fast delivery.

So far, so good.

Dad's been working on finishing his basement now for about a year. Speed is not his goal, its just his project that gets done when he has time, which seems to work for him. To help pay for my portion of the ski trip we took this year I've been going home to help put up sheetrock. Its a pain, but its good to see his project getting close to completion.

Skiing. As usual we went out to Jackson Hole and it was a good time. I needed the break but I didn't enjoy the slopes as much as I have in the past. Probably a combination of being horribly out of shape, and not quite wanting that particular bit to be my big vacation for the year. Has spurred me to get back into an exercise routine, but I think next year I'm gonna come up with something *I* want to do.

Going forward there's an Appleseed shoot up in Rolla ND that I'd like to go to this July. Gonna see if I can talk B into coming with. Probably gonna need to pick up a 10/22 before hand. Cheaper ammo, work the fundamentals the first day, work the known distance the second. If I enjoy it I might try to go to a Bootcamp next year.

Week of shooting, close to a thousand rounds required. Sounds like a blast.

Not much else going on at this point. T's off in the Sandbox now, departed after mobbing up about a week ago. Working on a BattleTech campaign we're gonna play via email to pass the time a bit. He's got a WH40k campaign for me to work on. Should help keep us both busy with the downtime.

It sucks when a third of your friends suddenly disappears for a year.

Might say something about my need to expand my friend base. Not sure. ;)

Welp, thats it for tonight, I should get some work done.

-Jon

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hard Magic - eARC review

As is typical, since I discovered the beauty (and the expense) of Baen eARC - I've been hooked. Books are my Crack. If I can get a book faster, I dang well will, especially something like Hard Magic which I've been slathering for since April of last year. Larry Corriea is an evil man, giving us a seven chapter look, and then laughing as his publisher takes an age to kick out the book

Hard Magic is coming out in May, if I remember correctly, but you can buy an electronic copy now from Baen, it's the 'unproofed' copy and it will cost you extra (15 bucks) but, for somenoe as ravenous as me, its worth it.

Now, about the book.

Its set in an alternate history of the 1930s, where magic is real. Powerful magic users are called actives. Actives can usually wield one type of power, for example, one of the main characters is a Heavy, or Gravity Spiker, he can control, and shift the pull of gravity. Another is a Traveler, she can teleport. Basically, think up any cool single superpower and its probably in the book somewhere.

The story revolves around a Heavy named Jake Sullivan, when the book starts off, he's working for the J. Edgar Hoover, as something of a cooler for Actives. He's a former/current convict himself so Hoover's basically using him, and it pisses Jake off. Jake's a thinker, even though he's a big ass guy, and he's figured out some interesting things about how magic works. After running into an old flame, he ends up falling in with a secret society who's trying to stave off a magical war with the Imperium of Japan.

Some of the better side characters include John J Pershing (Yes, the one they named the tank after) John Moses Browning, yes, that John Moses Browning :D - and, even though he never really gets screen time, a huge amount of the trouble in the book is his fault, so I gotta give props to Nikolia Tesla.

There are armoured blimps, BARs, Bi-planes, super weapons, and one really scary Japanese dude.

And none of that comes close to explaining how much *fun* this book is. Does Jake Sullivan feel a bit like the protagonist from MHI Owen Z Pitt? Yes, but for divergent reasons. Does it hurt the book? No, because Correia's really branched out, his story telling in this book is much more mature feeling, the hooks and twists were a little harder to see coming, and he's got one character thats such a departure for him that it *rocks*.

This is Corriea's best work to date. He's got four books, including Hard Magic coming out this year. And if he keeps getting better through them all, we're in for a treat.

Do yourself a favor. If you like guns, magic and historical settings, give it a go. Hell, if you only like *one* of those things, give it a go.

I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An Open Letter to my local radio station of choice...

...Please understand, I'm all for free speech.

But would you idiots (and so far, you idiots encompasses the morning radio showsof one radio station around here - its the only one I listen to, and its about to go away.) please refrain from commenting about shit you know nothing about?

Look, I know the whole thing in Arizona makes everyone want to open your mouth.

But yesterday my go to station kicked off by disparaging the Second Amendment

Today, three of you were railing about how owning a pistol on said station (or any firearm) and getting a CCW permit is a bad idea because it requires 'too much responsiblity' and 'you probably couldn't do any good anyway.'

You sheep.

You bleeding sheep.

I wish there *had* been a CCW permit holder in that crowd, although I salute the people who tackled that lunatic.

I'd offer to take you all to the range so you could learn a thing or two, but that would cost me a *lot* of money, and I'm not sure any of you are worth my time.

I think its time to put the iPod back in the truck.

That is all.

-Jon

Day 02 - A book you wish more people had read

You know, thats a good question. What book have I read that I wish more people had read makes me think I should have something profound to say here. I really don't. I mean, there are books I wish people had read so I could *discuss* it with them, or so they could see what I so enjoyed about them, but enjoyment is a profoundly personal thing.

But, I guess instead of a book, I'm going to go out on a limb and say the complete works of Mark Twain. The man wrote Satire, and he wrote Satire for a specific time period, but a lot of his work can still be applied to today. And I wish more people could sit down, read and then *think* about what he had to say.

I had an English class during one of my aborted attempts at a college degree that was at Oh My God its too early, but it was on satire, and our professor tried gamely to get us to DISCUSS Mark Twain. We were using original text - not anything PCed up as has been heard about lately in the news, and it was pretty clear that A: It was too early in the morning for most people, and B: a lot of people don't understand the idea of Satire.

Which is really too bad. But it is something I wish more people had read and understood. I don't pretend to be amazingly good at such things - or able to squeeze more meaning out of a written word then anyone else... but maybe if we took a moment to look at the follys of the past, we'd recognize the follys of the present for what they are.

Or maybe not.

But it couldn't hurt to try.

-Jon

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Book Meme Day 1 - Your favorite series (Of more then three books)

Well thats pretty straight forward, and to be fair this would be a lot easier to list my favorite book series to Urban Fantasy, Techno-Thriller, Sci-Fi, MilSciFi, etc.

But thats not what the Meme says so I guess I'll have to boil it down.

If I had to pick a favorite current series I'd go with the Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher. They are, simply put, crack in literary form. I read a lot of series these days, but Butcher's Dresden Files have held my attention for almost a decade. *Thats* staying power.

If you're interested and looking, start with Storm Front

A freaking Meme... but hey, its a post, right?

So, I came across an interesting Meme over at Stacytabb.com - 30 days of books. The whole meme is below. Some of these particular days I don't think I qualify for. But what the heck, lets give it a try. I'm gonna throw up Day one here in a few minutes.

◦Day 01 – Your favourite series of books (with more than 3 in the series)
◦Day 02 – A book that you wish more people had read
◦Day 03 – Your favorite recent book
◦Day 04 – Your favorite book ever
◦Day 05 – A book you hate
◦Day 06 – Your favourite writer
◦Day 07 – A writer you don’t like
◦Day 08 – Your favourite work in translation
◦Day 09 – Best scene ever
◦Day 10 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
◦Day 11 – A book that disappointed you
◦Day 12 – An book you’ve read more than twice
◦Day 13 – Favorite childhood book
◦Day 14 – Favorite male character
◦Day 15 – Favorite female character
◦Day 16 – Your guilty pleasure book
◦Day 17 – Favorite trilogy or tetralogy
◦Day 18 – Favorite book cover
◦Day 19 – Best ensemble of characters in a book
◦Day 20 – Favorite kiss or love scene
◦Day 21 – Favorite fictional romantic relationship
◦Day 22 – Favorite ending/climax
◦Day 23 – Most annoying character
◦Day 24 – Best quote
◦Day 25 – A book you plan on reading
◦Day 26 – OMG WTF? plot
◦Day 27 – Favourite non-mainstream writer
◦Day 28 – First book obsession
◦Day 29 – Current book obsession
◦Day 30 – Saddest character death